Capitol Hill Community Post | Federal Agents Arrest Alleged German Diplomat

IMG_7630I WAS working from home on Wednesday, November 12th, when around 12:45pm I heard a commotion right under my street-facing window, across from The Cornish School on Roy street. I looked out and saw what appeared to be a police SUV with flashing lights pulling over a black Porsche, in front of my building. I instinctively began recording the interaction, anticipating misconduct on the part of the officers. Two #LEO’s, who I later learned were federal agents, approached the suspect’s car. They told the suspect to keep his hands in plain sight and asked if he had a weapon. Next the two agents, who were in plain clothes but identified themselves, had their badges hanging around their necks and firearms visible on their utility belts, asked the suspect to step out of his car and calmly walked him toward their silver SUV.

At this point one agent informed the suspect that there was a warrant for his arrest, showed him the document, and began to make the arrest. To me, the suspect seemed a bit dazed and out of it from the very start, and once he saw the warrant and handcuffs, the suspect began to act highly erratically (as seen in the video below). He began screaming that he is a German diplomat and has diplomatic immunity, clearly resisting arrest, flailing on the ground, pushing the agents away and yelling incoherent phrases.

At this point one agent brought the suspect to the ground while the other agent walked to the back of the SUV, opened the trunk, found a container of pepper spray, walked back to the restrained and thrashing suspect, and sprayed the top of the suspect’s head for less than half-a-second. From my vantage point the spray barely made contact with the suspect, and was just enough to subdue him. The suspect was non-compliant the entire time, not once were his hands raised, and he was irate that the federal agents dared to arrest him.

During this struggle the agent conducting the arrest noticed he was being filmed by me and other folks on the street. The agent looked at me and said “please call the police instead of recording this”. I called the police and shortly nearly a dozen Seattle Police Department cruisers arrived on the scene. The #SPD seemed to support the federal agents and did not intervene with additional force. At this point the suspect was in the back of the SUV, his window was immediately opened for fresh air, and he was reassured by the #LEA’s that the paramedics were on their way to help with any pain he might have from the pepper spray. Once things were under control the federal agent who made the arrest thanked me for calling the #police, politely asked if he could have my information in case a witness is needed, and shook my hand. The agent, who was not white, also shared his frustration with me that when he first yelled for passersby to call the police instead of recording the arrest he was met with derision.

Incidentally, this entire event took place under a #BlackLivesMatter banner that I hung outside of my window, overlooking the street. And trust, I was well aware of my #whiteprivilege while intervening.

I don’t know if the suspect actually was a German diplomat, whether he truly had diplomatic immunity, or exactly how diplomatic immunity works. I don’t know if this man was a criminal, a threat to society or simply overstayed his VISA. I hope the man arrested will be justly represented in court, and judging by his Porche, he has the resources for effective legal representation.

I do know that #TerenceCrutcher will not have his day in court. Neither will #MichaelBrown. #DontreHamilton was not just pepper sprayed. #EricGarner was not whisked away in handcuffs, sitting in the back of an SUV. #FreddieGray was not assured that paramedics were on their way to give him assistance before leaving the scene of the arrest. #PhilandoCastile was not shown a warrant for his arrest. The scuffle with #KeithLamontScott did not end with him angrily yelling out the back of a squad car that he can’t be arrested.

I know that there will not be an autopsy or toxicology report in this case. And I know that the video I took today has a different ending than the one of #SandraBland.

The video of this incident can be seen here:

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About Bkrich

Boris Krichevsky’s work focuses on the cross-section of special education, teacher education reform and education policy. An alumnus of the New York City Teaching Fellows program, Boris worked for the Department of Education in New York City for six years, before transitioning to his current role as a doctoral candidate at the University of Washington. In addition to being a public school classroom teacher, Boris held a variety of leadership roles during his tenure with the NYC DOE. He served as the special education department chair, the special education compliance coordinator and program evaluator for the NYC DOE. Boris’s work at the University of Washington has afforded him the opportunity to explore education research and policy analysis. Boris is also a clinical teacher educator at UW. His primary work is with educators who teach in traditionally under resourced schools, where he supports teachers in meeting the needs of their struggling learners. Boris’s areas of specialty include social justice teacher education, classroom management, differentiating instruction, and designing dynamic professional development. Boris is currently a doctoral candidate in the area of special education and education policy at the University of Washington. He is also an active and contributing member of the Center for Public Research and Leadership at Columbia University Law School. Boris received a master’s degree in education from Brooklyn College, and a BA in Philosophy and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin. Twitter @BorisKrichevsky
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3 thoughts on “Capitol Hill Community Post | Federal Agents Arrest Alleged German Diplomat

    • Thanks for your comment! I hope nothing you read in my piece suggested that I assume all LEOs are racist, I do not. As such, there is nothing ironic in what I wrote.

      The main takeaways from this article are twofold: 1) to recognize (and appreciate) how professional the federal agents, and to some extent the SPD, were in this case, especially by not using lethal or excessive force; and 2) to highlight how such experiences are tragically not afforded to people of color in our country.

      As for prejudice in policing, I direct you here: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/11/science-of-racism-prejudice